How Open Data Can Improve Public Health Outcomes

Like many state agencies, the California Department of Health & Human Services found that their data was extremely siloed and inaccessible to the public and those within the agency. Legacy systems could not “talk” with one another and as a result, it was very difficult to make data-driven decisions.

Adam Dondro, Chief Information Officer, California Health & Human Services, knew that needed to change to keep pace with the publics’ and government employees’ expectations of the digital age. Through an open data initiative with OpenGov, the agency focused on making data available so that people could use it externally and internally. This change has helped drive better outcomes and better decision making at the executive level.

But what impact does open data have on public health?

Dr. Jim Greene, Deputy Director of the CA Department of Public Health has seen the impact firsthand. A measles outbreak in southern California was infecting children. According to the Center for Disease Control(CDC), measles is a highly contagious disease preventable by vaccine. “Before the measles vaccination program started in 1963, an estimated 3 to 4 million people got measles each year in the United States. Of these, approximately 500,000 cases were reported each year to CDC; of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 developed encephalitis (brain swelling) from measles. Since then, widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases compared with the pre-vaccine era,” reports the CDC.

To help parents make data-driven decisions about vaccination and the measles outbreak, the California Department of Public Health published school immunization rates for every school in southern California on the open portal for parents to see. The result? An increase in vaccination rates in the affected areas and a decrease in measles for the State of California.

Want to learn more about how these agencies are using open data to make a difference?

Watch their case study video Making Data More Useful, Usable, and Used.

Categories: Customer Story, GovTech

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